Posts Tagged ‘Death Valley’

This Shit Just Got Real

hehe

OK, you can decide if the headline of this post is a) an homage to the Bad Boys II movie, or b) an homage to Hot Fuzz.

Tonight was our “crew meeting.” After a day of teaching and working at the bike shop, I dragged my entire crew (and very important wife of one of those crewmen) across the street for mediocre pasta (I didn’t eat pasta. I ate a charred piece of salmon over a salad) and a conversation about The 508.

Man. Talk about making things seem much more real. I don’t know how this race manages to “sneak up” on anyone. But it sure feels that way. Afterward, I made the statement: “On the one hand, I feel like ‘Are you kidding me? It’s only 2-and-a-half weeks until the race?’ Then I stop and think and say ‘Are you kidding me? It’s still 2-and-a-half weeks until the race?'”

But two hours later, we’ve gone over the “ZomBee Bible,” complete with route printout, rules, checklists for food and everything else, nutritional sheets for the racer, goals, stage break-downs, hopes, fears, and everything in between.

By the end, I was just sort of babbling and repeating myself and saying things like “I’m just so humbled that you all are willing to go through all this to support me. I don’t want to let you all down.”

Sigh… this race really is a big deal. I think my crew better understands that this isn’t just a couple of crazy guys in the desert. (Well, it IS that. But you know what I mean.) It’s a production. It’s a big event. And it matters to everyone, not just me.

Here’s the itinerary:

Wednesday, 5 October, I rent the van and get it all prepped with signage, bike racks, etc.
Thursday, 6 October, depart from the bike shop around 4:30 in the afternoon. We’ll stop for dinner along the I-5, then make it into Santa Clarita around 10:30 or so.
Friday, 7 October, deal with all the last-minute stuff, inspections, and everything else.
Saturday-Sunday… yeah. Just a little spin with a couple of crazy guys in the desert!

I still have a few odds and ends to pick up, and I need to take care of getting the bikes tuned and ready. But it’s close now. After tonight, it most definitely did “just get real.”

Advertisements

My Ride

My Body (Tells Me No) (Young The Giant singing my theme song for the 2011 Furnace Creek 508)

Over the past year, I have changed as a man. Forget about riding a bike for a minute. I spent more time working on myself, my identity and what matters most to me, than at any other point in my life. And the end result? I like me. I’m so far from perfect, but I know some things about me I didn’t know at this time last year.

My body tells me no.
So, I’m going to go ride this 508+ miles in the desert in just a couple weeks. People ask me “why?” And I don’t have a logical answer.

But I won’t quit…
And maybe that’s the answer. I grew up quitting. I quit football. I quit track. I quit things that were hard, or tough, or challenging. Then I joined the military, and for once I stuck it out. I discovered that I can accomplish some amazing things when I put my mind to it. I like not quitting, even though there still are times when I can’t make my goals.

‘Cuz I want more.
And don’t we all really want more? That’s why there’s a hall of fame for The Furnace Creek 508. That’s why we keep showing up at start lines; why we batter our bodies and spirits in the desert; why we roll in to the finish hours later than we ever thought, and for a shirt.

It’s my road.
Because it’s my road. There are 230 other cyclists out there? Good for them. I’m going to beat some of them. Some of them are going to beat me, and handily. But it doesn’t matter. Fast. Slow. Somewhere in between. Win? Dead fucking last? Both get a medal. Both get a jersey. Both get bragging rights.

So here’s the deal, folks. It’s your road. It’s your ride. There’s no right way to ride 508 miles. There’s no wrong way. You want to stop and sleep 4 hours in Furnace Creek and eat a massive sandwich and bag of potato chips? You go right on ahead. Want to go on a full Hammer Nutrition regimen? Great! You want to ride a triple chain ring? If that’s what it takes, do it. You want to hire a coach? Then god bless.

I can give you advice, and so can others. I’ve only ridden the course once, and that was as part of a two-person team. I don’t have any great insight you don’t already have yourself. I just know what works for me. I have a coach. I ride a double chain ring (however, I did just put on an 11/28 cassette). I use Hammer Nutrition. Why? It works for me.

In 2009, my teammate spent the better part of the drive from 29 Palms back to Santa Clarita telling me that I wasn’t ever going to be the kind of cyclist who needs a coach. That I should get off the Hammer Nutrition. “Get yourself a triple and ride the way you’re supposed to.” Thanks, but no thanks. That’s HIS ride, not mine.

We all begin at the start line smiling and laughing and expecting to do great things. Many cross the finish line looking beleaguered and destroyed. Many others will have to stop along the way and take a DNF. The only time we’re all on the same program is there at the start. Once the wheels start turning, each rider is on his or her own. What works for me won’t work for you. Just as what works (relatively speaking) for my former teammate works for him, but doesn’t come close to working for me.

It’s your road. It’s your race. Go ride it.

We each have our own ride. All the advice in the world doesn't change it. I hope everyone, myself included, has an amazing ride.

Common Mistakes I Hope To Avoid: Stages 5-8

I’m sorry for not giving stage-specific tips or observations at this point. Honestly, though, everything here starts to blur, and when I think about the things I want to make sure I do right, and the things I don’t want to do wrong, they repeat (and there already are some repetitions up to this point), so it seemed more logical to just go with a final compilation.

Mistake 1: Get Him To The Greek!
2011 marks the 4th time I will have gone through Shoshone. Each time has been a different experience. When I was crewing in 2007, we got here late, and there was a long delay. It had been a long night/morning of just getting to that point, and the road to Baker was welcome.

When I got here in 2009, I crawled my wind-ravaged carcass into the back of the van and really have no recollection of what was going on until someone told me it was time to get back on the bike in Baker.

In 2010, I got to have breakfast at a diner in “town,” and I watched the early-morning racers pass through and get going.

It seems like every time, Shoshone to Baker is the psychological break. It’s a shorter stage, and it seems well within reach. “Just get there” becomes the mantra. Those who are feeling good will cruise up Ibex Pass and make the ride into Baker feeling good. For those who are fatigued and starting to flag, this stage is a killer. It’s hot. It’s usually windy. And it’s just enough to sap the last vestiges of strength from a racer. For the crew, Baker is awesome, because there are actual food options. But Baker scares me as a racer. In 2007, we spent so much time in Baker with a mechanical issue (the result of a lighting system that was far too complicated to be practical), that finishing was in doubt. In 2009, I just got on the bike and rode. I didn’t wait in Baker for anything. And in 2010, I sat and ate lunch and watched racer after racer throw in the towel.

When I get to Baker, I don’t want to stop. I want to yell out my totem, grab some bottles, let the crew rest up and get a bite to eat, but just roll on up the forever grade that waits.

Mistake 2: I’ll Just Rest Here For A Minute
The farther the race extends, the more creative riders get to justify being off the bike. In 2007, over the course of the final three or four stages, my racer kept getting off the bike every hour on the hour. It was like clockwork. Sometimes it was for a clothing change. Sometimes it was to mix his own bottle or find his own food. Sometimes it was to just give his feet a rest. Eventually, I broke the news to him that if he kept on like he was going, he wouldn’t finish within the time limit. He was mad at me, but it was the truth, and he kicked that habit at that point.

My goal is to stay on the bike. To finish, everyone has to stay on longer than he or she thinks is possible. The main thing here is for a crew to know when to get me off the bike and when to keep me on it. But all those things I need, be it clothing, nutrition/hydration, or something else in the van, the crew can get for me. They don’t need me back there, and I’ve let them know that.
Mistake 3: I Don’t Need To Eat Right Now

Mistake 4: Thank You!
This one really is a big one. In 2007, just off Sheephole Summit, my racer dropped back to the crew van and started thanking us for all the hard work and telling us he couldn’t have done it without us. But we still had 26 miles to go. It was 3:00 a.m., and he was riding 7 mph. I told him he wasn’t done yet. His wife asked if he wanted a sandwich. He cursed at us and gutted out the finish.

In 2009, I left the last time station feeling exhausted. But it was the last stage. Even out of it, it felt “downhill.” I was so out of it, in fact, that halfway up the climb to Sheephole, I pulled over and told the crew that I needed to rest before starting the climb. When they informed me I was already on it and nearing the top, I just looked at the road, said “Oh.” and kept on going. At the bottom of the descent, though, I just pulled over, got off the bike, and started throwing up. I was only a few miles from the turn into town, and I had to get back in the van, sip a Coke, and find the reserves to make it the final distance.

This race ends at the finish line. There’s not an easy stretch, not even the end. My crew was genuinely worried that I was going to DNF at the 500-mile marker. At that point, it’s not about the training or the physical fitness. It’s all about the mental toughness to turn the pedals one crank at a time. I swear, that was a record for the slowest bike ride ever. But that’s how this race is. If you cross the finish line with a full tank and lots of energy… well…

Mistake 5: Just A Little Bit Longer

It’s simply too easy to look ahead to the next time station, the next leg of the race, the finish line. It’s too easy to back off and feel like I’ve accomplished things before I actually have. Much like the premature congratulations in “Mistake 4,” this course really tests more than just a rider’s physical fitness. It tests fortitude, courage, doubts, fears. The highest highs and lowest lows all come out. In 48 hours on a tough course like this, a rider can experience every emotion imaginable.

I have planned ahead, but I have to ride in the moment. The first mile is as important as the last. There are no easy miles, and no shortcuts on the route. If things are going well, I’ll be out there long enough for that to change. And you know what? If things are going poorly, I’ll be out there long enough for that to change, too. The next time station is farther away that it feels. The rider up ahead is likely faster. The rider behind is likely faster. And sometimes, I’ll surprise myself and overtake those amber lights, or drop the ones behind me.

There’s only one certainty about the 508: Chris Kostman is standing in 29 Palms under a banner. He has a jersey there waiting. And a medal. And crossing that line is worth it. Whatever it takes, just get there. Ride the last 10 miles the way I ride the first 10 miles. Nothing is over until I’m standing there in front of the AdventureCORPS sign.

**********

You know, I’m not a “fast” cyclist. I’m not really a strong cyclist, either. But I have this crazy idea that sometimes I can pull off small miracles on the bike. That’s what the 508 is. It’s an opportunity to achieve something amazing. These mistakes I’ve been listing aren’t things for everyone. They are observations for me. They touch on my strengths and weaknesses. They address the pitfalls to which I know I’m susceptible. In the spirit of this race, I am sharing what little I know in the hopes it also helps someone else.

Out there on the course? We’re competitors, yes. And we also are our biggest supporters. Crews help out other teams. Racers give advice and encouragement. Before and after the race, the 508 is a family. I’m proud to be a part of it, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the start line. With luck, hard work, determination, and possibly divine intervention, we’ll also get a chance to say hello at the finish.

Good luck!

Common Mistakes I Hope To Avoid: Stage 4

On paper, this is my favorite stage. I simply love Death Valley. I’ve had my best and worst rides on this single stretch of road, and it’s the only stretch on which I truly never know what to expect. I love the changing colors and conditions on the valley floor. But during The 508, cruising along in the middle of the night, this is the stage where the reality of the race really starts to set in. In Spring of 2009, I rode in 5 hours to Shoshone from Furnace Creek during the Spring Death Valley Double Century. In the fall, it took me 11.5 hours to cover the same road. Nobody could have expected winds like that. In 2007, I watched the sun rise in the valley floor. In 2010, I saw just how many racers stop to rest and sleep, and how others shine when the sun goes down.

In '09, the climbs out of Death Valley were brutal after the headwinds on the valley floor. I was demoralized, but my crew was awesome. So was the crew of another racer in front of us. The Spirit Of The 508 is humbling, and attitude is everything.

Mistake 1: Dark Thoughts

It’s obvious on this course just how long and hard it is. After Furnace Creek, the physical challenges take a turn. When the sun sets and the dark of night settles in, racers have pushed beyond “double-century” distance and physical issues and into “ultra-marathon” distance and physical issues. In 2009, I was demoralized by the winds. I really did just sit down in Badwater and cry before my crew (who said later they wouldn’t have blamed me for quitting) got me back on the bike (actually, I walked into the wind, because I wasn’t able to clip in) and at least moving.

In 2010, the difference between those who were doing well and those who were struggling (this is a sweeping generalization, mind you), was positive attitude. One of my friends, Western Wood PeeWee, was climbing out and smiling on Jubilee. Butterfly was enjoying the course much more than in ’09. Jaguar was riding briefly with another cyclist and sharing some experience. Attitude is everything.

Mistake 2: Forgetting The Plan
At this point in The 508, it really stops being about the other racers (with notable exceptions for those in the front of the pack) and starts being an “individual effort.” Even though those blinking amber lights look close, they’re often well up the road. There’s no right or wrong way to handle the night. Some of my friends plan on sleeping a couple of hours. Others plan on pushing through to hit Shoshone by dawn. And others are going to wait and see how it goes. I would prefer to not get off the bike to sleep, but I have no way of knowing how I’ll feel once I’m out there. The only thing I know is that I’ll do what’s best for me. If I need to sleep, then I’ll sleep. And if I can get up and over the exit passes in the dark, then that’s fine, too. The fact of the matter is that I still have a double century to ride even though I’ve put 300 miles on my legs.

Mistake 3: The Silent Treatment

The crew is in full-on follow mode, but they still need to be coming up and checking in. It’s easy to get inside your head and question everything: training, planning, distance, speed. Doubts skitter across the mind like the scorpions on the road (Yes, there are scorpions. Lots of them.). In 2009, I was thankful every single moment my crew pulled up to just check on me and give me 15 seconds of conversation. I couldn’t have done it without their encouragement.

Mistake 4: The Silent Treatment, Part Deux

And while I’m talking about crew, here’s where your coherent decisions to choose the right people to sit in that van really pays off. I’m hard headed. I think I know it all out there. “Gels? Nah. I’m good.” It’s easy to be on good terms with the crew in the opening stages. Much different is that conversation in the middle of the night when I’m miserable. I don’t want to eat? Too bad. I think I’m going smooth and don’t need to take 5? Too bad. I think I’m taking in enough fluids and electrolytes and can skip this bottle? Guess again. I have to communicate to my crew. And when I’m not communicating with them, they need to be able to do what they know is right, even though I might be babbling an argument to the contrary.

Mistake 5: That Sinking Feeling

Go back through and read the blogs of 508 Finishers. Read the blogs of those who DNF’d. And read the blogs of those who, like me, barely made it through alive. One common element is stomach issues. It’s amazing how the body just shuts down and says “Yeah, I think we need to be done now.” That relatively civil statement, in my case, was expressed through vomiting and dizziness. Not so much fun. Pay attention to the body. I had been complaining of stomach discomfort for quite some time up Jubilee Pass, but when I descended that short mile off the back, my body just quit. I didn’t want to eat anything at all (sound familiar?). My crew, though, finally convinced me to try a single bite of a Hammer Bar.

Turns out a lot of my “distress” was just being hungry. I’d get sick again (and not just a rumbly tummy from hunger) before the end. But it’s safe to say that expecting the unexpected from your body is a safe bet. As my coach is fond of saying: it’s better to sleep it off and finish in 46 hours than it is to give up and take a DNF.

Mistake 6: Satisfaction

Hey, the “tough part” is over, right? But there are still 200 miles to go. Around Shoshone, I thought it was good to start realizing what I’d already accomplished. I drew determination from what I’d already conquered. After the winds of 2009 in Death Valley, nothing was going to keep me from finishing. Still, we hadn’t finished anything. Ibex Pass isn’t a leg breaker, and if you can make it through Furnace Creek without stopping, you can do the same in Shoshone. Seriously. Just get to Baker. From there, you really can start thinking ahead… a little bit. 🙂

(To Be Continued…)

The Crew Van

I just made my reservation for the crew van. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I did a 1-week rental from Enterprise, which offers either a Chrysler Town and Country van or a Dodge Grand Caravan. Both are within the race rules, as far as I can remember. But the width requirement really is a tough one to account for. We’re a little hamstrung by rental availability and offerings. Fingers crossed!

It’s Not (Just) About Grades

I don’t mean letter grades in school. 🙂

What I mean to say is that preparing for The Furnace Creek 508 isn’t all about scouting out the course or trying to anticipate the average grade of any given climb.

Here’s what I can tell you about The 508 course. I’ve served three roles. I’ve been a crew chief in 2007. I was an official finisher of the race (Team 2x Thrasher) in 2009. And I was a race official last year. This year, I’m attempting a solo race. Here’s some of what I’ve learned.

1. Everyone focuses on Townes Pass. Everyone. Even people who claim they aren’t. When you look at the profile of the race, it’s the biggest spike. However, that stage doesn’t have the most elevation gain. Not to downplay the climb, it’ll take some hit points out of a rider, but The 508 has a lot more than that stretch of road. Given that it also comes at the 200-mile point, a lot of riders who have only ridden double centuries, understandably struggle after the summit.

2. The Devil lives at the top of Salsberry Pass. With all the climbing already in the legs, this climb kills a lot of people. I’ve seen riders up and over in the dead of night. I rode up and over it in the early morning (2009 was the year of the crazy headwinds). And some have made it up and over in mid-day. But this climbing is now in the second half of the race, and riders’ bodies (and minds) start to respond in often-unexpected ways.

3. Time. I can’t tell you how many people blow out of the start, up the first climbs, and absolutely hammer the first two stages trying to reach Townes Pass, only to flame out and die over the next two stages. I remember these words of wisdom from a very experienced racer: “You can’t win The 508 in the first 25 miles. But you can certainly lose it.”

4. Time (part 2). The majority of riders who DNF do so somewhere between Furnace Creek and Baker. Baker, with all that civilization just begging for a long stop, seems impossibly far from 29 Palms when you’re sleep-deprived, sore, and suffering. But look at the finishing times. Even if things are going terribly wrong, there’s likely time to recover. Many riders could spend 6-8 hours sleeping if they absolutely had to, and still have time to make it to 29 Palms before the cut off.

5. Goals. They’re great to have, but they also can derail a rider. Look at my goals that I posted a few months back. I have bare minimums (just finish) to pie-in-the-sky (Townes Pass in daylight). Having those lofty goals is all well and good, but not if they become the focus of the ride. Yes, this is a race. But if you spend all your energy blazing land-speed records in the first 150 miles, the final 350 miles are going to be a suffer fest. Ride within yourself and your abilities. Set healthy goals. If you end up missing the high-end goals, no harm no foul. If you miss the bare minimum goals, it’s a DNF.

6. Stay on the bike. Every break takes up valuable time. When I was crew chief, I could count close to 5 hours of off-the-bike time for various issues from a severe bonk to mechanical issues with the crew van. Ultimately, most riders will get tired of being on the bike and try to find reasons to quit pedaling. If there’s a goal that really stands out to me, it’s to not stop at time stations. A 10-15 minute “rest break” at time stations translates to 2+ hours added to the finishing time. That’s a ton. I think it’s probably a pretty safe bet that racers finishing in 40 hours would have much preferred 38.

I can obsess about stages and profiles as much as the next rider. I look at the elevation profile of Stage 1 (which I’ve not ridden), and do a comparable ride in my area during training. I’ve been doing this lately. And I look down and see that it took me 7 hours to ride 90 miles. Then I look at the times racers complete Stage 1 and wonder how the hell they did it. Four hours? Are you kidding me? Next thing I know, I’ve psyched myself out and convinced myself I have no business being on the course.

The truth, though, is that The 508 isn’t all about the grades of the climbs. Each climb comes with an equally long and fast descent. Some short climbs have epic descents. Some long climbs have easy grades but gnarly headwinds. Some flat stages actually go up. Some stages that supposedly go “down” actually go “up.” The course is a mindfuck, which is the ultimate lesson.

At some point, the rides have to be enough. At some point, the training you’ve ridden all year is just that: training. The actual race can play out one of a hundred different ways. In 2009, I was excited to ride Death Valley. Furnace Creek to Shoshone is a 4-hour stage. I knew I could nail it. It ended up taking me 11.5 hours and nearly killed me. I couldn’t have predicted that wind storm.

The one guarantee? Each race has its own personality. Maybe we’ll get lucky and have tailwinds the entire race. Maybe it will be scorchingly hot. Maybe it will be frigid and wet (it rained last year!). There might be devastating winds. There might be a short climb that kills you, or a long climb that builds you up. I was throwing up in 2009, which never happens to me. There’s simply no way to predict it.

I just know it’s not ALL about the grades.

(For more thoughts and observations on specific stages, please visit  https://zombee508.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/common-mistakes-i-hope-to-avoid-stage-1/

I’m Riding!

It’s been far too long since I was active here posting. And I’ve had some folks wondering how I’m doing.

A quick glance backward. I’m a dad to a great 12-year-old boy, and he spends 6 wonderful weeks with me every summer. As such, I don’t get to ride nearly as much as I probably should be, but I made due. I got some rides in. I maintained. We spent a couple weeks with my folks in Illinois, and thanks to The Bike Surgeon there, I got a loaner bike to let me get out and keep up with my training.

I’ve also been pulling some late nights trying to keep up with 4 jobs trying to make ends meet. I started working at La Dolce Velo bikes in San Jose to help me afford the things I need to undertake The 508. I’m able to get in some long rides on the weekends, and a long ride or two during the week. The rest of the time is filled with watching what I eat, recovery rides, and the odd threshold ride to work on the cardio.

One last kernel of news: I now have a new bike. I didn’t get rid of my Cervelo R3, which I rode during the 2009 Furnace Creek 508. But adding to it, and the main bike for 2011, is the Jamis Xenith SL. It’s a great bike. Far and away the most responsive bike I’ve ever ridden. And I’m putting it through its paces. Right now, it’s a little tough. The geometry is different enough that my legs are fatiguing a bit differently, and I’m definitely feeling the work as I break in the new saddle and get the bike in shape (and me along with it).

Yesterday wasn’t a great one on the bike. There wasn’t anything specifically “wrong,” per se. It was just one of those days on the bike when things feel off. I felt sluggish. I felt slow. I felt just not quite up for the ride. Today, though, I felt much better. I chalked up yesterday as nothing to “correct.” I slept in this morning, and I felt good when I rolled out this morning. And now, 8 hours later, I felt good with my time on the bike. I thought the effort was solid. I could have gone faster, but I definitely rode within myself. I didn’t push too hard. And I didn’t try to do too much. I just rode. And at the end of the day, that’s what I needed more than anything. I logged well over 100 miles, which I’ll duplicate several more times before October.

More than anything, I’m feeling the approach of the race. I’m ready to get on with it, even if I don’t feel 100% ready physically. I feel stronger. I feel in good shape. But there’s just no feeling “ready.” There are so many variables. So much can go wrong. My job is to make sure everything in power goes right. I have a great crew set. I have my lights and signage, and I’ve managed to save enough to make the trip and the race as stress-free as possible.

So, that’s where I’ve been. I’ve been busy. I’ve been riding.

Champing at the Bit

(First, a disclaimer: it really is “champing,” not “chomping.”) heh

I have my bike back, but it’s the last week of the semester, and I’m scratching and clawing for time to ride. This past week was, fortunately, a rest week for me, but I am getting super nervous about the lack of riding over the past couple of weeks. The Davis Double Century is coming up in 2 weeks, and I’m going to try to get out there and hammer through that one. I need to be on a bike for long, consecutive hours.

For now, though, I’m stuck in a grading spiral. I’m hoping that the next two days will be enough to get me over the hump. But I. Want. To. Ride.

OK. Enough procrastinating on my blog. Grading now so I can roll tomorrow (well… not literally tomorrow, but you know what I mean.)

508 Goals

I guess I should clarify that these my goals for this year’s Furnace Creek 508. While I have set a lot of goals, I don’t think there are more than 500 of them just yet. 🙂

There is a lot of redundancy in this list, so here’s my logic. Regardless of how well I’m doing, or how poorly, I want there to be goals I can achieve. In many cases, achieving 1 goal will actually take care of multiple ones in that stage.

This endurance race, for me, is all about finishing. I have 48 hours to finish the ride, so I’m focused primarily on that one overriding aspiration. Beyond that, everything else is gravy. Here, then, are my goals before and during the race, including individual stage goals. At the end of the list, you’ll see a breakdown of all the possible time goals and the speeds I’d have to average in order to achieve them.

Furnace Creek 508 Goals

Pre-Race Goals:

  1. Raise $2500 for race
  2. Get entry fee sponsorship (accomplished)
  3. Get hotel sponsorship (accomplished)
  4. Get rental van sponsorship
  5. Keep a record of all training rides
  6. Complete all training rides according to Emde’s schedule (in process)
  7. 165 pounds maintained
  8. <160 on race day.
  9. Find a bike mechanic for the crew (in process)
  10. Get new wheels for the bike
  11. Keep up with the blog (in process)

Overall Race Goals:

  1. Finish the race, no matter what
  2. Finish in the top 25 riders
  3. Finish in the top 15 riders
  4. Finish in the top 10 riders
  5. <45 minutes off the bike
  6. Stick to the race plan as decided by racer and coach
  7. Finish in under 43:49:45 (Team 2x Thrasher 2009 time)
  8. Finish under 45:21:31 (Thrasher solo time 2007 time)
  9. Finish in under 40 hours
  10. Finish in <35 hours
  11. Finish before midnight
  12. Finish in daylight
  13. Finish ahead of more than half 2x/4x teams
  14. Over the Trona Bump and into Panamint in daylight
  15. Get to the base of Townes Pass and start the climb in daylight
  16. Make it over Townes Pass between 7-8 p.m.
  17. Descend safely off of Townes Pass
  18. Don’t stop on the way up any of the climbs
  19. Don’t stop at the top of any of the climbs
  20. Enjoy the opportunity and ability to race

Stage 1 (Santa Clarita to California City) Goals:

  1. Show up at the start line
  2. Stay in the pack, toward the back, during the neutral start
  3. Keep the adrenaline in check at the official start up San Francisquito Canyon
  4. Start in the back and pass >15 riders prior to meeting crew van
  5. Don’t stop at crew van
  6. California City before noon
  7. Average between 18-20 mph for stage 1
  8. Don’t stop at the time station
  9. Be in the top 50 riders through California City
  10. Finish Stage 1 in <5 hours

Time Cut-offs:

2:45 p.m. absolute cut-off time to finish

2:00 p.m.  for midnight finish

12:45 p.m. for daylight finish

Stage 2 (California City to Trona) Goals:

  1. Arrive in Trona <4:00 p.m.
  2. Finish in <4 hours on the stage
  3. Be in the top 40 riders through Trona

Time Cut-offs:

9:30 p.m. absolute cut-off time to finish

7:15 p.m. for midnight finish

5:15 p.m. for daylight finish

Stage 3 (Trona to Furnace Creek) Goals:

  1. Get up and over the Trona Bump in daylight
  2. Be on the Panamint floor in daylight
  3. Get to the base of Townes Pass and start the climb in daylight
  4. Get to the top of Townes Pass <8:00 p.m.
  5. Climb Townes Pass without stopping
  6. <1 min stop at the top for clothing change (if necessary)
  7. Safely descend Townes Pass
  8. Get to Furnace Creek in <18 hours
  9. Finish the stage in <7 hours
  10. Reach Furnace Creek <Midnight
  11. Don’t stop at Furnace Creek

Time Cut-offs:

6:45 a.m. absolute cut-off time to finish

3:15 a.m. for midnight finish

11:45 p.m. for daylight finish

Stage 4 (Furnace Creek to Shoshone) Goals:

  1. Get to Shoshone by 4:30 a.m.
  2. Reach Shoshone by dawn
  3. Complete both southern climbs in dark
  4. No stopping on either climb
  5. Don’t stop in Badwater
  6. Finish stage in top 25
  7. Finish stage in <5.5 hours
  8. Stay on the bike (<5 minutes in stoppage time)

Time Cut-offs:

1:45 p.m. absolute cut-off time to finish

9:15 a.m. for midnight finish

4:45 a.m. for daylight

Stage 5 (Shoshone to Baker) Goals:

  1. Reach Baker by 7:00 a.m.
  2. Reach Baker by dawn
  3. NO RIDER STOP IN BAKER AT ALL
  4. No stopping on the KelBaker grade
  5. Stay on the bike (<under 5 minutes in stoppage time)

Time Cut-offs:

7:00 p.m. absolute cut-off time to finish

2:45 for midnight finish

8:30 a.m. for daylight

Stage 6 (Baker to Kelso) Goals:

  1. Be in Kelso <1 p.m. =15-hour double century pace
  2. Be in Kelso <noon
  3. Stay on the bike (<5 minutes in stoppage time)

Time Cut-offs:

11:00 p.m. absolute cut-off time to finish

5:30 p.m. for midnight finish

11:00 a.m. for daylight finish

Stage 7 (Kelso to Amboy) Goals:

  1. Be in Amboy <5:00 p.m.
  2. Stay on the bike (<5 minutes in stoppage time)

Time Cut-offs:

2:00 a.m. absolute cut-off time to finish

8:00 p.m. for midnight finish

1:00 p.m. for daylight finish

Stage 8 (Amboy to 29 Palms) Goals:

  1. Finish
  2. Finish the stage before Midnight
  3. Finish the stage in daylight

Pace Goals:

Finish: 10.65 mph average

Finish by midnight: 12.43 mph average

Finish in daylight: 15 mph average

Finish in top 25 (estimate based on 2010): 12.75 mph average

Top 10 (estimate based on 2010): 14.2 mph average

Rolled…

Man. I’d like a do-over, please. I’m wiped out.

Today was a group ride with a bunch of endurance cyclists, all 508-veterans. And I got rolled.

There’s not a nice way to put it. And I know I have a tendency to be self-deprecating, but this is not one of those times. The first 20 miles were solid, and I felt pretty good.

Then we started climbing. As soon as the road tilted up, my heart rate sky-rocketed. Simply put, I’m just not in shape. My legs are strong enough to make a 10-mile climb, but my cardio isn’t enough to pump those legs that far or that hard. About half a mile from the top of the first climb, I got dropped. And I got dropped on a section of road that was not that steep.

Insult to injury: cycling in Los Altos, where all the rich fuck-knuckles ride. I try hard to avoid the testosterone poisoning, but I wasn’t in the mood for roadside critiques from douchebags who have no idea what I am or am not capable of.

So, less-than-stellar day on the bike that ended with 30 long and lonely miles back to my car at the start. That, my friends, is demoralizing, and not what I expected of myself today.

After riding mostly on the trainer indoors, I wasn’t really expecting much of myself from my first “real ride of the year.” I’ve done some rides on my own. And I’m fine knocking out 80-100 miles at a moderate pace. But riding in a group is a different experience. And I also forgot my Endurolytes, which are my salvation, giving how prone to cramping I can be. I’m working to shake this one off. We all have bad days on the bike, after all. And March fitness isn’t October fitness. But I sure could have used a better day in the saddle today to help boost the old confidence. I’m not riding any double centuries this year, choosing, instead, to focus solely on The 508.

Back out on the road again tomorrow…